Friday, October 07, 2005

My First Big Truck

I was an over-the-road trucker for two years, and worked for two companies during that time. The first company didn’t pay for shit, but they did have nice equipment.

My first truck had all the bells and whistles.

A massive amount of storage space helped since I was on the road for a month at a time. That meant a lot of clothing, unless I wanted to stop to do laundry every week or run around the country in dirty, smelly clothes. There are drivers who do that, but I wasn’t one of them.

It had a bunk warmer that ran off the battery so the truck didn’t need to idle while I slept in cooler weather. Of course, when the weather got downright cold, the truck idled anyway to keep the engine and fuel warm.

There were bunk lights, reading lights and a skylight to brighten the inside of the living area. I had a roll-out desk, with storage, for doing my paperwork, a space for a small refrigerator, a nook for a TV set, a cupboard for my food supplies and a night stand for my alarm clock.

The dashboard featured an outside-air thermometer, readings that showed my fuel miles per gallon, a cup holder, a four channel stereo with a CD deck and yet more storage above the windshield.

The second company paid much better, but made up for it by equipping their truck with the bare essentials. I had half the storage space that I was accustomed to, no desk, no space for a refrigerator, no night stand and the dashboard basically showed me how fast I was going and how much fuel was in my tanks.

I stuffed my fridge into a closet and did paperwork on the steering wheel. My alarm clock rolled around on the floor. If I wanted to use my laptop, I balanced it on my knees and worked until it got too hot for my kneecaps.

It was a strange way of life, but I got to see most of the country over those 23 months. I drove over 213,000 miles and saw 47 states. Some of them, like West (by God) Virginia, I saw more times than I wanted to.

California was – interesting. LA was a nightmare as was Chicago. California’s freeways are a bitch – so crowded that you can’t move and under-marked. Chicago is notorious with truckers for having a lot of low-clearance underpasses. I spent more time lost in those two cities than all the others I delivered to.

But the job did afford me the time and subject material to write a book. I dictated notes into a mini-tape recorder as events happened, then later transcribed them and fleshed them out on my laptop.

After another 18 months of rewriting, editing, rewriting some more and a whole lot more editing, I sent it off to an agent. Soon, I hope, I’ll be able to call myself a published author.

The name of my masterpiece? It’s Mother*ucker, Life on the Road.

I'll be back,


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